Witnesses at London’s Finsbury Park mosque say a white man who crashed a van into a crowd of pedestrians on Monday, deliberately targeted Muslims.
The attack which took place early on Monday morning left one man dead and at least 10 others wounded.
Witnesses reported seeing two other men who had been inside the van run away, but police are yet to confirm if others were involved in the attack. A 48-year-old man was arrested, police said.
The suspect, who was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, waved to the crowd as he was led away. The van involved in the attack is marked with the livery of the hire company, which is based on an industrial estate just outside the Welsh city of Cardiff.
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British Muslim leaders have linked the terrorist attack to islamophobia and urged UK prime minister, Theresa May, to do more to curb anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Tawfiq al-Qasimi, the leader of the Muslim Welfare House, told Al Jazeera, the imam of the Finsbury Park mosque saved the suspect, once under citizen’s arrest from “being killed possibly” by an angry crowd.
Describing Imam Mohamed Mahmoud as a “hero”, Qasimi said: “People started hitting him hard and Mohamed took so many punches because he was protecting the guy until the police arrived”.
Qasimi blamed Islamophobia for the attack, saying: “This guy was extreme right wing, trying to kill Muslims because they are Muslims. This is a clear hate crime. We ask the government to do more to protect us Muslims.”